Netflix to reduce stream quality in Europe after social distancing surge

20 Mar 2020

Image: © Anna Khomulo/

Movie and TV streaming platform Netflix expects its European traffic will be cut by 25pc, but said it will still deliver a ‘good quality service’.

Netflix has said it will temporarily reduce the quality of videos on its platform in Europe to ease pressure on internet service providers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The platform, which is home to shows including Stranger Things and The Crown, will drop the video bit rate for 30 days, following calls from the EU’s European Commissioner for internal market and services, Thierry Breton.

It comes as an increasing number of people in Ireland resort to working from home, with social distancing and self-isolation measures, while other parts of Europe are subject to lockdowns.

Reducing bit rates for 30 days

Netflix expects the move to cut its European traffic by about 25pc but assured users it will still be able to deliver a “good quality service”.

“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and [Netflix CEO] Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson said.

“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25pc while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

Breton praised Netflix boss Hastings for showing a “strong sense of responsibility and solidarity” on the issue.

Responsibility and solidarity

“Social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus lead to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes,” Breton said.

“I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users. Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity.

“We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together.”

Internet service providers in Europe have insisted they are “ready” to handle extra broadband demand from people at home during the pandemic.

Last week, Andrew Glover, chair of the UK Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), which represents the industry, said: “ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks.”

– PA Media